from the top
Building a strong foundation
By David Hein , president
One definition of “ foundation ,” according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary , is a basis ( such as a tenet , principle , or axiom ) upon which something stands or is supported . We find foundations in many aspects of our life : family , work , beliefs , organizations to which we belong .
PSBA has foundations to help guide not only board leaders but all school board directors . These are detailed in the Principles for Governance and Leadership , the foundation on which all new ( and seasoned ) board members should build their board service .
The seven Principles cover the basics – advocating , leading , governing , planning , evaluating , communicating as well as acting ethically . But they go deeper than that . They provide a path to successful governance . This , in turn , provides school board directors with the knowledge they need to help further the goals of their districts .
To assist new board members in building their own foundation in school board service , there are many online courses on myPSBA . They range from introductory to more advanced learnings and also include the required courses that all new and reelected board members must take . Make use of these valuable resources that can help you get the information you need during your time on your board .
All of the above are ways that PSBA can help you to build a strong foundation of board service ; however , there are many things that you can do right now to start off on the right foot . Go to your district ’ s new board member orientation . If your district doesn ’ t have one , ask the superintendent to meet with you so you can get acclimated to your new role . Actively listen , take notes and ask questions to ensure your understanding of the topic . Attend every meeting and be prepared . Review the items that are on the agenda . Read the documents that you will be voting on before the day of the meeting and call your superintendent if you have questions . Engage in discussion at the meeting if you still need further clarification .
Educating yourself about your district , local , state and federal issues will help you build the strong foundation you need to succeed in board service . As I start my year as the PSBA Governing Board president , I look ahead with hope and optimism for what we can all do together in support of public education . Good luck , and remember – we ’ re all in this for the students ! Have a great year !
A new kind of leadership
By Nathan G . Mains , chief executive officer
Leadership is tested when true challenges arise . It ’ s relatively easy to be a leader when everything is gliding along smoothly and no one is objecting . When issues come up and there are tough decisions to consider , concessions to make and there ’ s no single answer that will satisfy everyone — this is when the leadership seat may feel like a place you no longer wish to be . This is when a leader ’ s ability to lead is put to the test . As school board directors , you ’ ve certainly been tested over the past two years , and it ’ s likely things won ’ t be “ as they were before .” Living through COVID-19 has changed us forever — as a global society and as individuals . So how do you lead your way forward if returning back is not an option ?
Albert Einstein was known to have said , “ The leader is one who , out of the clutter , brings simplicity … out of the discord , harmony … out of difficulty , opportunity .” Simplicity , harmony and opportunity – this is where our focus needs to be as we lead our way into 2022 . Communities , students and staff must feel the simplicity of moving forward under a harmonious and unified leadership , experiencing reenvisioned educational opportunities and options that rose from necessity during the unwanted disruption of a global pandemic .
You are the governance of the K-12 public education system in Pennsylvania , and you ’ ve got this ! You ’ ll continue to be tested , but you are prepared to lead , not without disagreement and debate around issues , but without lasting discord and incivility . Simplicity , harmony and opportunity — here ’ s to a new year and a steady path forward !
4 PSBA Bulletin January / February 2022